The Two Former Strays That Are My Whole World
(New Jersey, USA)
My Barnabas, Barnaby, Mr. Barnes
My Chershire, Chershie
I so vividly remember my first encounter with a ginger tabby who would become my Chershire in late summer 2011. My parents and I spotted him down the street from our house one night, and being a huge animal lover, I wondered about him for the next few days. My intuition and passion for animals told me to do something-so I bought a few cans of cat food and put some outside hidden by a tree in my front yard. When I was walking home from school that same afternoon, I was happily surprised to find him eating the cat food! He scattered away, but I knew he would be back. And from then on, it became a routine. He would visit my house around two times each day. I would put out the cat food and then go inside to make him feel safe because he would not get too close if I was watching him outside.
Around two months later in the fall, I watched Chershire eat his food like any normal day. A few moments after he walked away, all of a sudden a lanky grey tabby appeared and started eating out of the food bowl. I was completely shocked! He became Barnabas! I was worried and sad that there were now two homeless kitties needing some food and love. I so badly wanted to bring them inside the house, but I had a Brittany named Cassie who was very jealous of them and had her own health issues. So the cats stuck around…surviving all of the weather elements, greeting me every day, transforming from being very skittish to very friendly, and getting along better with each other. After my dog Cassie unfortunately passed away, I made it my mission to get the cats to the Veterinarian and bring them inside. It took me three tries to get Barnabas into a carrier and to the Vet for a wellness visit and vaccines, but I was so relieved to have him in the house. He took about a week to get more comfortable in his new surroundings. I let him explore naturally so that he would
not get overwhelmed since I knew he was a bit more skittish than Chershire. And Chershire was a more curious kitty who liked his freedom outside so I waited a few months before trying to bring him inside. I also wanted Barnabas to become fully secure at home on his own. On Christmas Eve, It was the purrfect moment to bring Chershire to the Vet. It did not take long to lure him inside the carrier with his treats, and he acclimated inside very fast. I no longer had to worry about all the “what ifs” of them being strays outside, which was the best part! We think Chershire was abandoned by neighbors that decided to move, and Barnabas must have previously lived on a nearby street.
Aside from some kitty play fights, both of my boys adapted amazingly and became the absolute most affectionate little felines. They have greatly enhanced my life and are responsible for so much of my happiness and joy. Tragically after six years of living inside the house, I had to say goodbye to my sweet and clever Barnabas who had an abrupt blood clot in September of last year. Despite frequent visits to the Vet for intestinal issues, completely normal bloodwork, and no obvious signs of heart issues, Barnabas developed a saddle thrombus that cut off blood supply to his back legs. After emergency Vets and a visit to the Cardiologist, it was determined that he had underlying asymptomatic heart disease. He had very little chance of survival, so I had to say the toughest goodbye. I genuinely never took a day with him for granted.
I am so grateful for my cuddly Chershire. He has the most gentle and kind personality -and he is extremely well behaved. I miss Barnabas every single day and I strive to keep his memory alive all around me. I have a brilliantly lifelike painting of him, as well as hundreds and hundreds of pictures of the boys together to give me some comfort. Whoever abandoned these amazing cats truly missed out, but I am so incredibly lucky to have found them!!
-A Very Happy Cat Mom